Justice and Home Affairs Council reaches agreement on Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation
04 October 2023
The EU home affairs ministers met in Brussels at the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council to discuss unresolved asylum and migration issues.
In this context, the Council reached an agreement on the Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation.
JHA Council agrees on a joint position on the Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation, the last element of the Common European Asylum System
The reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) was once again a key issue discussed at the JHA Council in Brussels. After years of divided opinions on the matter, the Council had already reached an agreement on core elements of the reform in the summer. During its meeting last Thursday, the Council focused on advancing the corresponding legislation. One important element of the reform is the Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation. At today’s meeting of permanent representatives, the member states cleared the path for the Regulation, which is considered the final building block of the CEAS reform.
The aim is to preserve the open borders within Europe as a key achievement for citizens and for trade and businesses in the EU. Federal Minister Faeser emphasised that the CEAS is the only way to effectively and permanently reduce the burden on local communities.
“The CEAS is the only way to achieve a more balanced distribution of responsibility for refugees in Europe. And the common asylum system is the first step towards significantly limiting irregular migration.”
Council agrees on common position on the Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation
The Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation is an essential part of the CEAS reform.
“This system must also work in times of crisis to ensure that there will be no more lawlessness and chaos at the external borders. This is the aim of the Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation,” the federal minister said. In future, every person at the EU’s external borders will be subject to strict checks and registration. People with very little chance of receiving protection in the EU must undergo an asylum procedure in compliance with the rule of law at the external borders and, if their application for asylum is denied, they must be returned to their home countries directly from there.
“Due to the amendments made to the proposal by the Spanish Council Presidency, Germany was able to agree to it,” Federal Minister Faeser said. Among other measures, the procedures for children and their families at the external borders will have priority. In addition, it will not be possible to deviate from the usual admission conditions required by the Reception Directive. This means that humanitarian reception standards will not be lowered. The Regulation will also ensure that all migrants will be registered – even in crisis situations. The provisions of the Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation can only be activated by a qualified majority of the 27 EU member states in the Council and not by individual member states.
“We will continue to intensively negotiate with the European Parliament to ensure that children, young people and their families will be exempted from the procedures at the external borders. We have already submitted notes to this end,” Faeser said. She added:
“We also wanted to address some other important issues, but we wanted to reach a compromise today.”
The proposed Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation has now officially been agreed on, which means that negotiations with the European Parliament on the CEAS can now resume.
“I am very glad that we achieved this during our intensive negotiations and that we were able to gain support for our ideas of humanity and order,” Federal Minister Faeser said.
“We will now finalise the corresponding legislation.”
Extended protection for Ukrainian refugees
On Thursday, the home affairs ministers also agreed to extend temporary protection for refugees from Ukraine.
“Those who had to flee from Putin’s murderous war will continue to be safe in the European Union and have access to education and the labour market,” Federal Minister Faeser said. Since the start of Russia’s war of aggression, Germany has taken in more than 1,080,000 refugees from Ukraine. The majority are women and children whose families have been torn apart.
“This extraordinary joint effort has saved many lives and shown a great deal of solidarity with Ukraine. As long as this terrible war continues, we will continue to help. That will be the message our decision sends,” Faeser stressed. Temporary protection for refugees from Ukraine is currently scheduled to end on 4 March 2024. The ministers agreed to extend protection until March 2025.
Working together to combat organised crime
Another issue discussed by the Council was the fight against organised crime, in particular drug crime. In Brussels, Federal Minister Faeser agreed to enhance cooperation with South American countries.
“We must do whatever it takes to jointly crack down on these structures that operate globally and are extremely violent,” Faeser said. She also spoke with Colombia’s Minister of Defence Iván Velásquez on the margins of the JHA Council.
“We must work together more closely with the drug-producing countries to keep these large quantities of drugs from reaching our continent in the first place.” Following the Council meeting, Faeser travelled to Palermo, Italy, to attend the international Ministerial Conference on organised crime, in particularly human trafficking and migrant smuggling.